TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A judge has ruled that a Valrico carjacking and murder suspect will be held in jail on no bond while he awaits trial.
James Hanson Jr. was arrested earlier this week and charged with bank robbery, carjacking and the murder of Mathew Korattiyil, a beloved Valrico business owner, who was a husband and father of three.
State prosecutors presented evidence in court Friday and requested Hanson not be released. The judge agreed, saying the evidence was compelling and ruled Hanson will be held on no bond.
Mathew Korattiyil’s family members were in court for the proceeding. His son was called to testify about personal items that belonged to his father. After his testimony, the son left to view his father’s body for the first time.
Several other witnesses also testified in court. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office showed video they have of the bank robbery that Hanson is accused of committing. A detective stated Hanson hit an employee at the bank and used a handgun. Authorities in court said Hanson claimed he used a fake gun during the robbery.
A detective said Hanson, after being caught, initially said someone else killed Korattiyil. The detective said Hanson eventually admitted that he robbed the bank and killed the 68-year-old. He then brought them to the body of the victim, the detective said.
During testimony, Hanson was seen in court putting his head down on a table. A bailiff had to tap him on the shoulder and tell him to sit up.
Hanson had been sentenced to life in prison for a 2002 bank robbery in Tampa. He was released from prison last month after the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office used Hanson as a material witness in another murder case.
The State Attorney’s office says there were legal problems with Hanson’s original conviction and, coupled with his testimony in the murder case, it was enough to allow him to be released from prison.
A statement released by the State Attorney’s office on Wednesday says, in part, “The hard reality of our criminal justice system is that sometimes prosecutors have to use the testimony of criminals to convict other criminals.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters Thursday he believes a life sentence should be a life sentence.
“To me, I think whenever you do the crime you should do the time. Victims go through a terrible process and then when the sentence is administered that gives them some closure,” he said. “Sometimes with a murder you can never have full (closure), but then to see that the person ends up not serving the full service, that is really bad for victims.”
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